Federal regulators Thursday unveiled long-awaited updates to websites that allow consumers to search more detailed information about thousands of hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
The revisions to the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare and Hospital Compare sites include measures that show potential health risks of imaging services in hospitals, detailed findings from nursing home inspections, and specifics about each nursing home’s use of antipsychotic medications.
Both sites also contain a wealth of updated information on how well these facilities perform on a variety of so-called quality measures, such as the frequency of hospital infections, how often patients have to be readmitted to a hospital, and the percentage of a nursing home’s residents who report having moderate to severe pain while staying in the facility.
Dr. Shari Ling, deputy chief medical officer in the agency’s office of clinical standards and quality, said the new data will not only help consumers make more informed choices about hospitals and nursing homes, but will also help facility leaders to better pinpoint problems in their institutions.
“We all know the adage, what gets measured gets done,” Ling said in a teleconference with reporters arranged by the Association of Health Care Journalists.
The websites allow users to compare up to three facilities at a time, and contain maps to pinpoint facility locations, as well as glossaries to help explain complex medical terms.
This is the first time the agency, which regulates hospitals and nursing homes, has released facility-specific information about nursing homes’ use of antipsychotics on residents who do not have conditions for which the agency recommends the powerful drugs. Advocates have long lobbied for the information to be made public.
Earlier this year, the Boston Globe published a series examining overuse of antipsychotic drugs to sedate elderly nursing home residents, based on never-before-released data on more than 15,600 nursing homes in the United States. The data were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Similar to the Globe’s findings, which were based on 2005-2010 data, the most recent information available at that time, the newly-released federal data on antipsychotics show that their use in long-term nursing home residents without recommended conditions is measurably higher in Massachusetts than it is nationwide.